Shin Dong-hyuk was born in Kaechon internment camp #14 in North Korea. He grew up with no knowledge of the outside world. He never heard of things we take for granted, like money, love, or God.

He had no loyalty to his family, only to the guards who held reward and punishment in their hands. And he had no motivation to escape, until a fellow inmate told him that there was a different world on the other side of the prison fence. Even after escaping to South Korea, he struggled to understand and absorb the values that most of us accept as moral axioms.

The Jewish sages would have labeled Shin Dong-hyuk a tinok she’nishba, a child kidnapped and raised in a society of thieves. Even as an adult, such a person has no culpability for his actions, ...

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